Frezza, Durlacher excel on Day 1 of state wrestling tournament
CHAMPAIGN -- Nobody cares about state rankings, head-to-head battles or really anything beyond the matter at hand at this point of the high school wrestling season.
All that matters now is how the competitors perform for the three days of the state tournament, and more pointedly, the first of them.
Just ask the high-profile opponents of Stevenson's Tommy Frezza and Mundelein's Reese Durlacher. Both Frezza and Durlacher took down opponents ranked in the top five in the state on Thursday inside State Farm Arena to earn spots in Friday's championship quarterfinals.
The tenth-ranked Durlacher (39-4) upended three-time state qualifier and two-time state medalist Carlos Champagne (Marian Catholic, 39-4). Eighth-ranked Frezza stunned No. 3 Domenic Zaccone (30-3) in overtime in first-round action.
"Tommy just believed -- that's all," said thrilled Stevenson coach Shane Cook.
Frezza's 4-2 victory sets up a rematch of sorts with Ben Anderson (St. Charles East, 42-1), an opponent eliminated by Frezza a year ago in wrestlebacks.
Durlacher's victory came after a first glance at the state brackets caused a bit of nerves, which led to hours looking at film. But all that preparation was well worth it.
"Yeah, I wasn't initially thrilled meeting Champagne, but the film told me he was more defensive of a wrestler than I thought," said Durlacher, "and that we had similiar styles, so I needed to take advantage of that as best as I could."
Durlacher opened in convincing style, with a 5-1 first-period advantage, before holding off a late charge to ensure a 10-5 triumph.
Mundelein's Logan Kvien (182, 38-4) pinned his opponent, as did Carmel junior Riley Palm, who remains undefeated (39-0) at 138 pounds
"I couldn't wait for this day to come," said Palm, who two in previous injury-filled seasons still collected sixth-place medals against Class 2A competition.
Depending on what state poll you choose, Grayslake Central junior Alex Cramer (44-1) is listed as either the No. 1 or 2 man at 160 pounds. And on Thursday, he validated those lofty appraisals by overwhelming his first-round opponent with a 12-1 major decision.
"Alex put all the extra time in during the off-season to get himself ready, and you can see it just with the focus he's had all season long," said Grayslake Central coach Matt Joseph.
Also remainingg in the front draw are Alex Barbarise (Antioch, 40-6, 113) and Evan Husko (Wauconda, 34-9, 120). Husko defeated returning state medalist Nathan Orosco (Kaneland, 33-10) to stay alive.
Barbarise will next face Caleb Tyus (Civic Memorial, 38-5) after needing extra time to put away Joleet Catholic's Jack Finnegan (33-8).
"I was really nervous, and I feel like my warm-up was way too long, but I was still able to get the win, and that's all that counts," said Barbarise.
Back in Class 3A, there were some hard hits before it was over. Fourth-ranked Michael Gunther (Libertyville, 24-5, 138) fell in overtime to Phillip Sims (15-6) of Metea Valley. And the Wildcats' Charlie Schmidt (35-6) lost to Downers Grove North's Ethan Smith.
Joel Vandervere (Warren, 120, 40-2) and Danny Pucino (Libertyville, 41-2, 132) picked up were they left off last weekend, reprising their championship form from the Barrington sectional with first-round wins.
After the quarterfinals take place Friday, first-round action will begin in wrestlebacks, and later it will be the semifinals, set to start at 7 p.m. in all three classes.